Fawaz Adebisi & Latiifah Amusan
These aren’t just words; they are the heartbeat of conversations, echoing across social media and youth gatherings. Whether born from the heat of politics, the lyrics of songs, the drama of movies, or the comedy of life, these slangs found their way into the vibrant ‘Pidgin arena.’
1. Dem don rip me: This is a slang expression that means someone has cheated, scammed, or ripped off someone else.
It was coined and mostly used by controversial singer, Portable.
It comes from the verb rip, which means to tear or cut something, and the pronoun dem, which is a plural form of they in Nigerian Pidgin. Example: Dem don rip me, they sold me fake tickets.
2. Tewo: This is a slang word which literally means, Press Money.
It is mostly used amongst Nigerians when demanding money from a particular person or friend.
It is a Yoruba language which means give me money.
3. Wahala: Coined by controversial singer, Portable, this is a Nigerian slang word that means trouble, problem, or difficulty.
It can also be used as an interjection to express surprise or dismay. It comes from the Yoruba language, which is spoken in parts of Nigeria and other West African countries.
4. Explain tire: Coined by Burnaboy, this is a phrase used to express frustration or annoyance when someone has to explain something repeatedly or in detail. It comes from the idea of getting tired of explaining.
5. On colos: Use when questioning about a person’s sanity: This is an indirect way of asking if someone is alright in their senses.
This is commonly used for questioning a person’s sanity. It’s mostly used on social media to question someone’s inexplicable behaviour.
6. Sope Otilo: The term ‘Otilo’ is a Yoruba word that means it’s (Izz) gone. The word had gained mileage in everyday conversations. Singer and songwriter Poco Lee gave Nigerians the slang after the release of his single ‘Otilo’.
7. “Let the poor breathe,” a phrase incidentally popularized by Bola Tinubu, gained prominence during his campaign as he frequently used it. It’s a plea directed at the government and other influential bodies to take into account the struggles of the poor and powerless when making decisions.
It could also signify providing the masses with opportunities for a more comfortable life. People also use it when they want to indulge in something extravagant, treating themselves to a lavish and excessive experience.
8. Emi lokan: Popularized by Bola Tinubu, it means “It is my turn” and has since Tinubu’s June 2022 comment in Ogun gained mileage on social media. It has found varied usage in different contexts denoting ownership.
9. No evidence: No evidence” was introduced by Nigerian singer Burna Boy when he said, “You go explain tire, no evidence.” This phrase means that your explanation won’t hold up if you don’t have proof to support it.
It’s also used to highlight that without putting in the necessary effort, there will be no reward. For instance, if you didn’t study for exams and expect to pass, you’ll have to explain, but there’s no evidence of your preparation.
10. Japa: Originating from Yoruba, it means to run swiftly. In 2023, it became the go-to term for expressing the desire to travel abroad.
When Nigerian young people say “Japa,” they mean wanting to leave the country quickly to go abroad to study, work or do other stuff.
11. Dey Play
From Sabinus’s “Something Hooge” the phrase “Dey play” is also a contention for the most used phrase in the country.
It means to continue wasting time; and being unserious. It rose to fame on social jus recently.
12. Agbado: In 2023, refers to the supporters of Bola Ahmed Tinubu
Usually going with videos in which people show off their successes such as newly-acquired houses or cars, “dey play” is a catchphrase that tells others they need to double up their work and stop being unserious with life.
13. Fa ja: Meaning to drag something until it snaps.
14. Bizza bizza: This is a slang term that was coined by a Nigerian singer, Portable.
He mostly used it to describe how his grace and wealth is blooming. In terms of usage, Bizza Bizza means hot or very strong or original.
It’s a Yoruba slang that is common among Nigeria youth. Example: Mo ti lo oshey Bizza Bizza, which means I’ve used a very hot spiritual soap (meant for money ritual).